The one thing that audience members can be certain of when the Cantemus chorus takes the stage is that this weekend’s winter concert is not your typical holiday performance.
Instead of the timeless Christmas carols you’ll hear on the radio, in stores or perhaps at other concerts, Cantemus singer Susan Nash says the North Shore musical group offers the audience something a little different, but seasonal all the same.
“You’re not going to hear ‘Jingle Bells,’ you’re not going to hear ‘Hark, the Herald Angels Sing’ from us,” said Nash, of West Newbury. “You will hear something different. But if you look at the title of our program and the list (of songs), it is definitely seasonal. You’ll hear it’s all themed on Nativity and light.”
This weekend, the 42-member chorus, which includes several singers from the Greater Newburyport area, will kick off their 30th anniversary year with “Twilight in New England: A Celebration of New England Composers.” The program features historical and contemporary composers, including William Billings, Randall Thompson, Amy Beach, James Woodman and Gwyneth Walker.
Directed by Jane Ring Frank and accompanied by keyboardist Jeffrey Mead on piano and organ, the chorus includes Richard Blumensheid, Claire Cayot, Gary Lubarsky, Justin Turner of Newburyport; Patti Clark of Georgetown; Nancy Weinberg of Newbury, and Michael Fosburg and Susan Nash of West Newbury.
The group will perform on Sunday afternoon at St. Paul’s Church in Newburyport, following a performance Saturday night at Christ Church of Hamilton-Wenham in Hamilton.
The centerpiece of the program is James Woodman’s cantata “The Midwife’s Tale,” commissioned and first performed by Boston Cecilia in 1996.
“The cantata sets mystical excerpts from the Arundel Manuscript, an 8th-century collection of legends about the life of Christ, in which a midwife to Mary at Christ’s birth tells of her astonishing experience,” Nash wrote in an e-mail.